Here at our shop in Brighton we have a small outside car parking area which we decided to make use of this year. We wanted to grow some of the plants we sell as essential oils such as thyme, sage and rose so that we could show our customers and have examples on hand for the product making workshops we run. We believe there is nothing like actually seeing the plants we are using to gain a deeper understanding into their properties, constituents or methods of extraction.
With our new garden underway we decided it would be fun to enter this year’s Grow It competition, run by the wonderful Harvest scheme, which offers businesses in Brighton and Hove the opportunity to transform their windowsills, patios or gardens into a productive space that grows food and other useful plants.
We wanted to incorporate recycled materials into our garden so have been planting most things in old base oil containers that have had one side cut away and holes drilled in the bottom like these blue ones above.
We wanted to have a mixture of food crops and other plants that we use a lot in the business like rose and marigold. Being tea addicts we made sure we had plenty of mint, lemon balm, lavender and other delicious herbs dotted around.
My colleague pointed out that we have had less bees coming into the shop this year as they used to be attracted by all the wonderful essential oil smells but had no plants to feast on when they arrived. Luckily now they can enjoy all the lovely lavender, roses and other flowers outside.
We were very happy to hear we were finalists in the competition and hope to cultivate our garden further next year by training some plants up trellises and increasing the number of food crops we grow. The winner was the Phoenix Community Centre who planted a lovely garden in an alleyway.
All the entries reminded us how easy it is to make the smallest space into something productive, beautiful and supportive to the environment and wildlife. And equally important, it’s great fun too!